141. Telegram From the Embassy in Ceylon to the Department of State1

515. Reference Embtel 509.2 Without wishing create undue concern for immediate future, Embassy observes political orientation GOC has deliberately turned to left under leadership Prime Minister Bandaranaike since joint Embassy USOM telegram 320, December 53 and future political developments seem considerably more unclear.

Prime Minister Bandaranaike mouthing Marxian phraseology has repeatedly called for cooperation of “progressive” forces and now appears much more amenable to demands extremists in government while at same time attempting placate forces outside government. Prime Minister’s changed attitude results variety factors including: (1) defeat of MEP in most municipal and urban elections last December by “independents” many of whom were regarded as UNP supporters in disguise; (2) victory of UNP in Kandy and Colombo elections. Prime Minister actively participated in Colombo campaign after his role as world statesman in Delhi, Washington, New York and Ottawa and loss election was crushing blow to his greatly inflated ego; (3) recent decision former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake to rejoin UNP; (4) increasing economic and political pressures from within and out government, especially from Tamils, labor and Buddhist extremists constant frustrations, wide criticism for lack accomplishment and recent call on UNP for new elections plus recurring rumors of some kind of coup; (5) Prime Minister’s own deep-rooted feelings of insecurity and intense personal desire remain as Prime Minister for his elected term … ; (6) effect of anti-Western influences including Communists and Sinhalese extremists in poisoning his mind.

If Prime Minister remains physically and mentally well odds are he will last out his term in absence of serious crisis. Economic or political crisis might cause his fall and succession by a more extreme [Page 272] government or a period of rule by the Governor General followed by new elections. Such crisis could be caused by communal disturbances leading to uncontrollable riots. Prime Minister believes he can maintain control by playing opposing individuals and groups in government against each other, but he may get beyond his depth.

Embassy believes no changes United States policy presently called for but would view any increases in AID programs with great reserve.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 746E.00/3–1557. Secret.
  2. In telegram 509, March 14, the Embassy reported that Ceylonese Permanent Secretary for External Affairs De Soyza had recently called on the Chargé to explain that Bandaranaike considered that the United States, in its own interests, should “postpone” the planned opening of an information center at Jaffna. The prime reason for this request was the increasing communal tension in Ceylon between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. (Ibid., 511.46E/3–1457)
  3. In telegram 320, the Embassy and the USOM reported that the political orientation of Ceylon increasingly appeared to be moderate: “Prime Minister has followed as cautious and as moderate a course as politically practicable in view Mahajana Eksath Peramuna campaign promises.” (Ibid., 846E.49/12–556)